By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
For the Bulletin
LAS CRUCES – Small changes can have a big impact. An easy, conscious choice is saying “no” to plastic straws when going out for a bite to eat. This small, slender tube is at the center of a growing environmental campaign aimed at convincing people to stop using plastic straws to help save the oceans and stop killing ocean wildlife.
The Old Mesilla Pastry Café/The Shed on Valley Drive makes it easy – they’ve switched from plastic straws to high-quality paper straws and takeout boxes made of pressed board.
“After watching a report on how plastic straws impact the environment, I really wanted to start taking steps to be part of an environmental solution,” says Gabriel Mendoza, owner of The Shed. “Customers really enjoy the concept, too.”
In the article “Straw Wars,” National Geographic reports: Of the eight million tons of plastic trash that flow every year into the world’s oceans, the plastic drinking straw is surely not a top contributor … but their size makes them one of the most insidious polluters. Plastic straws are alluring enough to be consumed by fish and other marine life, resulting in great damage or death. In 2015, a video went viral showing scientists removing a straw embedded in a sea turtle’s nose.
“Plastic is destroying our oceans,” said Mendoza. “Paper straws are three times as expensive as regular plastic straws, but we want to do what we can to try and help as long as it’s economically viable.”
“We see more and more local businesses taking measures to reduce their waste while also being conscious of the planet,” says Las Cruces Green Chamber CEO/President Carrie Hamblen. “In the restaurant industry especially, there are several ways to reduce waste. In Las Cruces, Beck’s Coffee uses stainless steel straws, The Shed has switched to paper straws, Salud uses cloth napkins, and much more. Those little steps go a long way for both the businesses and their customers who want to produce less waste.”
Hamblen adds, “Customers can also help teach businesses what is appropriate by declining a plastic straw or utensils, bringing their own take out containers and bags, and using cloth towels instead of paper napkins. Working together can help change our habits and benefit all of us.”
The market research firm Freedonia Group estimates that every day in 2017 Americans used and tossed about 390 million single-use plastic straws. It takes up to 200 years for a plastic straw to degrade.
Green Connections is submitted by the South-Central Solid Waste Authority (SCSWA) managing solid waste, recyclables, and supporting sustainable environmental efforts for residents and businesses throughout Doña Ana County. Contact the SCSWA at 575-528-3800 or visit SCSWA.net.